The Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI), has recently awarded its Product Development Fund (PDF) to two Qatar-based start-up companies working on tech-based solutions that address market needs in two unique areas.

A braille entertainment platform being developed by the company Bonocle, and ‘Sajdah 1 Lite,’ a smart prayer rug developed by Thakaa Technologies, are now the recipients of QSTP’s PDF grant. QSTP’s Executive Director, Yosouf Al Salehi, officially presented the PDF to Bonocle’s project manager Faraj Abdulla, and the founder and chief executive officer of Thakaa Technologies, Abdulrahman Saleh Khamis.

Aysha H. Al Hamadi, Director of Product Development and Grants Management Fund, QSTP, said: “Start-ups play a critical role in diversifying economies, and at QSTP, we are committed to fostering the growth of this economic element not just by providing technical and practical support but also funding assistance. With QSTP’s Product Development Fund, we help start-ups commercialize their innovative technologies and build a viable business.”

PDF is a grant that promotes innovation, development, and entrepreneurship in Qatar by aiding local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to take their hi-tech products and services to market. Beneficiaries of the PDF receive financial support equivalent to half of the total cost of their product proposal, up to QAR 1.2m.

The Bonocle

Utilizing a specially designed device similar to a slightly oversized computer mouse, the Bonocle, named after the company, is a next generation assistive technology for people who are visually impaired. Unlike others available solution, Bonocle provides broad access to digital content, something that visually impaired people have been waiting for. It allows people who have issues with their sight to read articles on their laptop, iPad, and iPhone via braille. It is believed there are around 250 million visually impaired people in the world, of which about 10 percent use braille for communication support.

“With Bonocle we are creating the first ever braille entertainment platform for visually impaired people, a platform with the goal of reducing the inequality in accessibility to digital content. We want to integrate the visually impaired community within our workplaces and classrooms, while having braille be a viable option for content consumption. Bonocle uses technology in both its hardware and software forms to create different applications within gaming, education, and productivity”, explained Faraj Abdulla.

Thakaa Technologies’ Sajdah 1 Lite

Thakaa Technologies’ Sajdah 1 Lite is a smart educational prayer mat designed to help young Muslims and recent converts to Islam to correctly observe the standard practice for worship. More than 30 types of prayers are featured on the rug, with users able to read instructions and verses from the Holy Qur’an in Arabic and English.

Abdul Ali from the company said, “Our smart educational prayer rug strives to benefit all Muslims with their routine of prayers. It allows users to learn prayers, maintain proper praying postures, and memorize important surahs (chapters) and  verses of the Qur’an. Furthermore, the rug utilizes advanced technology to track the movements of the user, prompting them when to say the necessary prayers and the right posture to use.”

“As a start-up, we strive to build a strong focus on delivering superior quality and services to our clients. The launch of our Sajdah product lets us start setting the benchmark for high standard digital products. As our world continues to get smarter, so must our praying solutions. We are thrilled to lead in this regard,” Khamis said

Since its launch four years ago, QSTP has awarded PDF grants to over two dozen SMEs and start-ups engaged in developing new products or processes that fill gaps in the local market, particularly in the energy, environment, healthcare, and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors. Beneficiaries are selected by a team of experienced industry managers, based on a rigorous assessment of the fund applications, business viability of the project, and the applicants’ commitment.

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